Questions of Cash: Corgi's refund takes heat out of HomePlan upset

 

Q. In autumn 2011, Corgi offered us its HomePlan central heating cover, which we paid monthly from November 2011. In spring 2012, it offered to extend the cover to include home electrics, which I agreed to. The policy included an annual central heating service, to be carried out before November each year. I phoned on 29 September 2012 to remind it of this and to request the annual service – we had problems restarting the central heating after it had been switched off for the summer.

I was promised an engineer would contact me, but I heard nothing. I emailed twice and phoned again, but still nothing happened. I then cancelled the direct debit, and a local engineer serviced our system. I requested a refund of the £221.82 paid in premiums to Corgi. Again my correspondence was ignored. I paid £204 to the local engineer for a service that I had paid Corgi for, but which was not provided. PS, Leeds.

A. Corgi HomePlan has refunded the cost of your premiums plus the cost of the service provided by the engineer. You have received a payment of £425.82, which is significantly more than you requested. James Duffie, Corgi HomePlan's customer service director, apologises for the problems. He says: "We pride ourselves on our high level of customer service, but in this case there have clearly been failings both on the part of our appointed engineer and my administration team. I am working closely with my management team to improve communications between the engineers, ourselves and our customers to prevent this situation occurring again."

Q. Three years ago, we bought a fridge-freezer from John Lewis. It has since developed a fault that will cost more to repair than the purchase price of £350. We complained to John Lewis, but the best it will offer is a half-price replacement. It is reasonable to expect a fridge freezer should have a life of well over 10 years – my mother-in-law's freezer has lasted 54 years. Even Liebherr, the manufacturer, was shocked to learn that one of its products had given problems at "such a young age". Are we being unreasonable to demand a free replacement? AW, Sussex.

A. We raised this with John Lewis but it did not improve the offer it had already made. A spokeswoman says: "We have offered the customer a considerable amount towards a replacement fridge-freezer, and have found him a suitable alternative made by the same manufacturer." She said that the retailer was waiting to hear from you as to whether you found the offer acceptable . We offered to take the matter further by contacting Liebherr to discuss the problem, but you did not respond.

Q. Our 21-year-old son signed up with an employment agency, which found him his first job as a postgraduate. He was to be paid £80 a day plus travel costs. He was not told whether the £80 would be gross or net. He was later instructed to sign up with an umbrella company, which meant he had to pay both the employee's and the employer's national insurance contributions, plus a £27.50 weekly administration fee to the umbrella company.

When he finished the work, he requested the promised travel expenses of £50 a week. He was then told these were only a tax deduction as and when he began paying tax. He is unlikely to pay any tax this year. Umbrella companies can flout the rules designed to protect temporary staff by opting for the Swedish Derogation. The umbrella company also included his holiday pay within the £80 a day as "rolled-up pay", which we thought was unlawful. LK, Leicestershire.

A. Problems with employment agencies and umbrella companies can be taken to both HMRC and Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. An Acas spokesman explains: "The Swedish Derogation applies when a temporary work agency can offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment and pay the agency worker between assignments. If no such contract is agreed, agency workers are classed as 'workers' rather than employees, and therefore have a different set of rights.

The Swedish Derogation allows for a temporary work agency to offer an agency worker a permanent contract of employment. The agency worker will forgo their right to the same pay as if they had been recruited by the employer directly. In exchange, they establish their employment status as an 'employee' and gain the rights this entails." He adds: "Rolled-up holiday pay is when employers or employment agencies state that the hourly rate of pay includes an element of holiday pay.

This means that employees and agency workers are paid holiday pay within their normal wages throughout the year. An hourly rate of £7.20 might include a sum to cover annual leave. It is advisable that employees are paid holiday pay at the time the employees take their annual leave. There are very specific rules for using rolled up holiday pay." Acas warns that several risks about working for an employment agency should be considered.

The temporary contract is between the worker and the agency. Agency workers generally hold "worker status", limiting their employment rights – they are not entitled to claim redundancy pay or unfair dismissal. The employment agency can terminate the contract at any point, so there is less employment security.

Workers should check if the agreement is for a Swedish Derogation employment, or if employment is as a traditional agency worker. But regardless of the kind of contract, all workers and employees are protected by the national minimum wage provisions and working time legislation. As far as we can tell, what happened to your son does not breach the law. But it is a warning to others in a similar situation.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Getty
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor